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Public Opinion Snapshot: The Public’s Top Priority Is Still Jobs

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Conservatives have assiduously cultivated the idea that America’s main problem is the budget deficit and national debt. They have managed to carry much of the media with them and dominate the political conversation. But they haven’t convinced the public, whose main priority is still jobs.

In the latest CBS/New York Times poll, a plurality of 39 percent say the economy/jobs is the most important problem facing the country compared to just 15 percent who say the deficit/debt is the main problem.

Nor does the public believe that reducing the federal budget deficit is somehow going to solve the jobs problem. In the same poll a mere 29 percent think cutting the deficit will create jobs compared to 29 percent who believe a major reduction in the annual budget will actually cost jobs and 27 percent who think there will be an effect on jobs.

These polls are more proof—if proof were needed—that the current conversation in Washington is shockingly detached from the real concerns of the public. Time to wake up, policymakers.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
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Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
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Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
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Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
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Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
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Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or


This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here